Roselle, NJ Windsor Hotel Fire, Oct 1886

Roselle NJ  Downtown View.jpg



The Windsor Hotel, formerly known as the Mansion House, at Roselle, N.J., was destroyed by fire early yesterday morning, and one of the occupants an Irish laundress named JOHANNA SULLIVAN, was burned to death. Roselle is a pretty suburb, 15 miles from New York, on the New Jersey Central Railway, and its population of 1,000 is almost entirely composed of New York families. The hotel was a two-story and mansard brick structue, containing 72 rooms, standing about 100 yards from the railway station. It was built 12 years ago, at a cost of $23,000, by the Roselle Land Improvement Company.
Last Spring GEORGE PFLEGAR, who had previously been engaged as a traveler for H. B. CLAFLIN & Co., rented the building, furnished it throughout in first class style and entered upon what proved to be an unsuccessful season. At the close of the Summer he owed considerable money, his principal creditors being MILLER, the Newark furniture dealer, and H. C. WILLIAMS, of Elizabeth, to whom he owed $900 for carpets and curtains. Both were secured by chattel mortgage. WILLIAMS had decided to close out the transaction, and today MR. PFLEGAR'S effects were to have been sold by the Sheriff. Thursday evening PFLEGAR went to Philadelphia to try and raise money with which to meet the WILLIAMS claim.
At 2:45 o'clock yesterday morning railroad men saw from the station that the hotel was on fire. The alarm was given, and C. B. HANDY, the hotel porter, ran through the house, waking the occupants. They all responded readily except JOHANNA SULLIVAN, the laundress, a woman of 53. When she awoke she became bewildered, and could not find the key of her room. The porter tried to break the door in, but had to retire before the advancing flames, leaving the woman to her fate. Those who escaped from the burning building were MR. and MRS. JAMES SCOTT and one child, of New York, the only remaining guests at the hotel, the others having departed Thursday, MRS. PFLEGAR and five children, MARY LIBBERMAN, MARY JOHNSON, and KATIE FETT, all servants. EDWARD JOHNSON, waiter, and HANDY, the porter. Nearly all of these escaped in their night clothes and none of them saved any of their effects. After the fire had been in progress about an hour the Fire Department of Elizabeth was summoned, but the village has no water supply and the engines, consequently, proved of no service.
The cause of the fire is a mystery. Its happening just previous to the date for the Sheriff's sale was commented upon by some, but all the evidence goes to show that suspicion of this kind has no foundation. MR. PFLEGAR'S equity in the destroyed property amounted to only a trifle, and his absence from home at the time of the fire, coupled with the estimation in which he is held by his neighbors, satisfied them that the stories afloat were unfounded. The remains of the unfortunate woman wre found in the ruins yesterday afternoon and an inquest will be held, during which an attempt will be made to discover the cause of the fire. Like all the other houses in Roselle, thehotel had been lighted with electricity. This was cut off on Thursday, and during the night the occupants of the house relied upon lamps and candles while engaged in packing up for removal. It is thought that the careless handling of these lights may have started the fire.
The hotel building was isnured in English companies for $15,000. Its owners had carried a twenty-thousand dollar policy for several years, but reduced the amount last year. The PFLEGARS claim to have a very trifling insurance on their private effects, but the mortgagees are fully insured. A druggist named FRANK TIERNAN, who had a store in the hotel building, lost a stock valued at about $500.

The New York Times New York 1886-10-16